Top 10 Sword and Sorcery Anime [Updated Best Recommendations]

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The sound of clashing steel and the crackle of powerful magic are the siren song for fans of sword and sorcery anime. They often transport viewers into a world of epic fantasy, telling tales of powerful countries waging war, or solitary mercenaries venture forth seeking glory or fortune. Whatever the story, swords, spells, and adventure abound.

Join us while we revisit our updated list of Top 10 Sword and Sorcery Anime, which the original list is viewable towards the end of the article.

10. Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry (Chivalry of a Failed Knight)

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: October 2015 – December 2015

Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry has a bit more modern setting than one would expect for a sword and sorcery anime, but don’t let that fool you. It is set in a relatively contemporary, alternate version of our own world and takes place at an academy where gifted youngsters train to become powerful, magical knights. However, society is structured in such a way where rank in the knighthood is determined exclusively by magical ability, which is bad news for main character Ikki Kurogane, dubbed “the worst one” by his peers due to his utter lack of magic.

However, what Kurogane lacks in magical power, he more than makes up for in dedication to a rigorous training regimen, and martial prowess. His life turns upside down when a clerical error forces him to room with Stella, a vivacious vixen with incredible magical powers who is used to getting her own way. It’s up to Kurogane and Stella to disrupt the status quo in the school’s annual tournament to determine the top-ranked aspirants at the academy. While the show is mostly character-driven, it has plenty pulse-pounding action, with slickly animated battle sequences that are sure to please fans of the genre.


9. Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic

  • Episodes: 25
  • Aired: October 2012 – March 2013

Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic takes place in an Old World partly inspired by history, particularly that of the Middle East. In it, all living beings possess an essence known as “Rukh,” that is fed into a cycle of death and rebirth. This essence can be manipulated by powerful magic users, appropriately known as magi, to accomplish great deeds and give them spectacular power in combat. Magi, seeking to expand their powers, often enter labyrinthine dungeons filled with traps and treasure, often ruled over by a powerful magical being known as a Djinn.

Aladdin is a carefree young man who sets a precedent by manifesting his power as the “fourth magi,” when previously there have only been free. He has a flute inhabited by a Djinn that he can call on for assistance, as well as a turban that can function as a magic carpet. Together with his friend, Alibaba, he enters dungeons looking for magical artifacts, hoping to inspire the nations around the world with his leadership and kindness. With oodles of dungeon-crawling action, complete with traps, swordplay, and magic, as well as a follow-up series, there’s a lot for fans to sink their teeth into.


8. Dog Days

  • Episodes: 38
  • Aired: April 2011 – March 2015

Shinku Izumi is a half-Japanese, half-British junior high school student in Japan, dealing with the trials of middle school life when he is suddenly summoned to the alternate world of Flonyard, which is inhabited by humans with animal ears and tails. There, he learns that he was summoned by Princess Millhiore, of the Biscotti Kingdom, to fight as their champion in a war between the nations. She gifts him their magical weapon, Palladion, which has the ability to take whatever shape the wielder desires.

Shinku is a cheerful and persistent young man and is willing to do what’s right for those he cares about. Although he is summoned to fight in a war, it is structured as a blood-free tournament between nations, where winners get larger shares of a pool of prize money. Although the animation style seems a bit childish, it tells a very real story of friendship, and there’s a lot of swordplay and spell slinging to keep viewers entertained throughout the series’ three seasons.


7. Seiken Tsukai no World Break (World Break: Aria of Curse for a Holy Swordsman)

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: January 2015 – March 2015

Akane Academy is a high school whose student body is made up of “saviors,” who are reincarnated individuals with memories of heroic past lives, and access to powerful abilities. There are two types of saviors; Shirogane, who are able to manifest weapons and techniques, and Kuroma, who manifest magic primarily for defensive purposes. The students spend their tenure at the school training to fight “metaphysicals,” monsters who relentlessly attack humans at every opportunity.

The story follows Moroha Haimura, a dependable young man who has two past lives and is thus, able to utilize abilities of both Shirogane and Kuroma. Because of his unique power, he joins an elite group of students to defend the school and the town when metaphysicals start showing up to cause trouble. Battle is the bread and butter of the show, and because of the interesting duality the show sets up, there’s a healthy mix of clashing swords and dazzling spells.


6. Fate/stay night

  • Episodes: 24
  • Aired: January 2006 – June 2006

The world of Fate/Stay Night is a complicated one, with a staggering amount of lore. Just know that it’s set in a world where magical warriors compete in a semi-regular event called “the Holy Grail War,” a tournament where the winner is granted their deepest wishes. The themes of the show are more complicated than the premise, as it's often more about conquering oneself, as much as it is your opponent.

The first series follows events centered around Shiro Emiya, a survivor of a battle that left a swath of destruction that apparently killed everyone except him. His is a sincere young man who seeks to uphold the ideals of his late, adoptive father, and become a hero for justice. His chance encounters with a mysterious silver-haired girl sets him on a journey that will change the course of his life. If a richly constructed lore and flashy combat are in your wheelhouse, you have to check it out, and the sequels will provide plenty of must-see viewing.


5. Claymore

  • Episodes: 26
  • Aired: April 2007 – September 2007

Claymore takes place in a world where humans are also plagued by shape-shifting monsters called Yoma, who feed on and terrorize the populace. They are protected by Claymores, half-human half-Yoma hybrids possessing super-human strength and abilities (as well as giant swords, claymores), but who eventually succumb to their demonic instincts. The show follows a Claymore named Clare, who saves a young man named Raki, from a Yoma who has slain his family.

While most of the emphasis of this show is on brutal, frantic combat, the supernatural abilities of the Yoma and the Claymores definitely give the swordplay a more magical feel. The themes of the story are expectedly weighty and tells a moving tale of revenge and self-sacrifice.


4. Akatsuki no Yona (Yona of the Dawn)

  • Episodes: 24
  • Aired: October 2014 – March 2015

King Il is the pacifist ruler of Kouka and is beloved by many. Because of the kingdom’s peace, his only daughter, Yona, lives a carefree life, happily whiling away her days at Hiryu castle under the watchful eye of her companion and bodyguard, Son Hak. Her childhood sweetheart, Soo-won, visits the King under false pretenses and commits the ultimate betrayal when he murders King Il in front of Yona, and declares himself the new ruler. Yona and Hak flee to Hak’s hometown and begin a quest to reclaim her kingdom by seeking out the power of reincarnated dragons of legend.

Akatsuki no Yona is a story of adventure, of course, but it is also the story of a young woman maturing into the ruler she is destined to be. Her journey is fraught with peril and battle, enough to keep any fan of the genre on the edge of their seat throughout the series’ run.


3. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

  • Episodes: 64
  • Aired: April 2009 – July 2010

Perhaps a show that needs no introduction, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is the canonical adaptation of the insanely popular manga, introduced after the first iteration of the show received lukewarm reception for spinning its wheels and deviating from the source material too strongly. It tells the story of brothers Edward and Alphonse Elric, two young men in a remote village raised by their mother after their father abandoned them at a young age. They leave the village to train as alchemists, having shown a great aptitude for it at even a young age.

Unfortunately, when they return to their village after training, they do so under the sad circumstances of their mother’s passing. An attempt to use forbidden alchemy to resurrect her results in a loss of limb for Edward, and the near obliteration of Alphonse, whose soul is hastily imbued into a nearby suit of armor. Without spoiling anything, the series is an epic story of personal discovery during a ravaging war and isn’t to be missed.


2. Arslan Senki (The Heroic Legend of Arslan)

  • Episodes: 25
  • Aired: April 2015 – September 2015

Another series heavily inspired by history, The Heroic Legend of Arslan is set in a fantasy world reminiscent of the Middle East during the Dark Ages. The kingdom of Pars is the cultural and economic crossroads of the area, and its king, Andragoras the 3rd, has never known the sting of defeat.

This all changes, however. When Andragoras falls victim to a sinister plot carried out by some of his most trusted advisors, it forces his son Arslan to flee his rightful home, and sets him on a harrowing adventure for survival. The Heroic Legend of Arslan is a show that has plenty to offer fans of multiple genres, because of its fantastical, magical setting, it’s memorable cast of companions and villains, and thoughtfully explores the cost of cultural imperialism and freedom.


1. Berserk

  • Episodes: 25
  • Aired: October 1997 – March 1998

We round out the list with another iconic series that needs no introduction. Berserk is the dark fantasy story of Guts, a brave, orphaned mercenary who works as the right-hand man of Griffith in the troupe, the Band of the Hawk, in the employ of the King during a century-long war. When the war is over and Guts decides to leave the Band, Griffith begins to lose his mind and loses favor with the king when he assaults his daughter, the princess. A year of imprisonment and torture at the hands of the monarch changed him forever.

Griffith activates the Behelit, a magical object in his possession that grants him incredible power at the cost of what little humanity remained to him, and sets him on a path of conquest that Guts finds himself directly in the path of. Berserk is a brutal, sweeping epic adventure that is a must-watch for fans of the genre, especially now with a second adaptation just around the corner.


Final Thoughts

With that, our revised list of Top 10 Sword and Sorcery Anime comes to a close. With a healthy blend of shows new and old, there’s excellent variety for veterans of the genre, and new fans who want to understand how it has changed over time. Are there any shows between the initial list and our update that deserve a spot on your personal top ten list? Sound off in the comments, and let us know!

Nick Rich

Writer

Author: Nick Rich

Nick is, first and foremost, a nerd. Netflix on in the background, a drink in one hand, and a book in the other is how you'll find him most days after work. He currently works as an English teacher in Kawasaki, where he lives next to a graveyard with his girlfriend and his unnamed flying squirrel. He hopes to run into Kitaro, late one night.

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Original Article Below

Imagine that you live in a world, where the clash of swords is more common than the sound of cars moving on the freeway, where each day was a fight for survival. The lucky few have been gifted with arcane magic and stand out above the rest. What would you do if you lived in such a world? Would you be a warrior, fighting each day for your meals? Would you be a bard, telling the stories of famous warriors to get a bite to eat? Would you settle down on a small farm with your wife and try to make a living?

This top 10 list will cover the world of the sword and sorcery anime. Those chosen for this list have to have swords, magic and adventure.

10. Madan no Ou to Vanadis (Lord Marksman and Vanadis)

  • Episodes: 13
  • Aired: October 2014 – December 2014

During the medieval days, Western Europe was almost always in conflict. Lord Marksman and Vandadis is set during one of those wars. It follows the tale of Eleanora “Ellen” Vertalia, as she takes place in battle after battle, with the powerful weapon that the Black Dragon has gifted her.

While this is a good anime, it is not the best of the Sword and Sorcery anime on this list. What puts this anime into the Sword and Sorcery area is the fact that it is set in a medieval era and all of the action revolves around a war, where swords and sorcery is used.


9. Hitsugi no Chaika (Chaika -The Coffin Princess)

  • Episodes: 22
  • Aired: April 2014 – December 2014

In a world where magicians and mechanics can coexist, war still manages to rear its ugly head. Chaika takes place five years after the last war. The Gaz Empire has settled into an after war peace. However, in all wars, there are those who are left behind wondering what happened to a loved one. Chaika - the Coffin Princess follows a 14 year old girl as she searches for the remains of her father. She carries around a coffin to bury him… once she finds him.

The horrors of war are most evident when they are out in the open. Taking place after a war, Chaiki – The Coffin Princess still revolves around the aftermath of that war. The main characters have to protect themselves against soldiers who have turned to bandits.


8. Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis (Rage of Bahamut: Genesis)

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: October 2014 – December 2104

When the world was ravished by a mad dragon and almost all life was destroyed. The prince of darkness, Satan teamed up with Zeus, the god of lightning, to put a stop the dragon. This happened long ago and the world had forgotten about it, only to have the dragons be reborn as Bahamut. Our heroes have to find a way to seal this dragon once more and save the world from its destruction.

Dragons are always loved… or feared in anime. Either they are saviors or mindless beasts. The Dragons in Rage of Bahamut are beautifully animated and the action in the anime is great.


7. Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic

  • Episodes:
  • Aired: October 2012 – March 2013

When we hear the world “Aladdin” we might be thinking of a blue genie and the voice of wisdom that was behind the blue buffoon. The anime Magi takes place in a strange land where a mysterious ruin is supposed to hold a priceless treasure. Aladdin, the main character, heads off to beat this dungeon and claim the treasure for himself.

This anime may be a little slow in the first season, however the second season, The Kingdom of Magic, picks up and takes you on an adventure that you will love to travel. Even though the setting of this anime is more of the Arabian Nights style, the use of swords in combat is constant. Not to mention that there is more myths surrounding the magic used by djinn and others spirits of the Arabian deserts.


6. Sword art Online

  • Episodes: 25
  • Aired: July 2012 – December 2012

Without even knowing who you are, you most likely have played World of Warcraft. If you haven’t played it, then you have heard of it. Though, if you haven’t heard of it, tell me your internet provider, because I need to know who services people living under rocks. Sword art Online is a Virtual Reality Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (VRMMORPG), where the sword rules and magic flies. The only problem with the game, is that those who enter, only come out when they win… or die.

While Sword Art Online is an anime about a game, it still falls into the category of a sword and sorcery anime, because of where the majority of the anime takes place.
With all Sword and Sorcery adventures, you have people on a quest. Games have quests so that players will know where to go and what to do. The players of Sword Art Online are trapped within the game so their quests are real “Life and Death” situations.


5. Log Horizon and Log Horizon 2

  • Episodes: 50
  • Aired: October 2013 - March 2015

Log Horizon is set in Akihabara, but an Akihabara that was morphed to fit into the medieval era. The players use magic and fight monsters while the game environment around them starts to come alive. Those who are referred as, NPCs (Non-Playable Character) have started to gain their own consciousness and fear the Players. The main character, Shiroe, pulls his friends together to work and solve the mystery of what the players call “The Apocalypse.”

Log Horizon is another anime that takes place in cyberspace. However, unlike Sword Art Online, it is unknown why the players are trapped in the virtual world. The players no longer have quests in Log Horizon, but they are set back and have to figure out what to do and how to do it. Shiroe, and his guild, are high level players, so they already know the land and are able to help restore normality to the lost players. The members of Shiroe’s guild are fighters, a ninja, a bard and Shiroe himself is a magician.


4. Akatsuki no Yona (Yona of the Dawn)

  • Episodes: 24
  • Aired: October 2014 – March 2015

Some sword and sorcery anime take place in peaceful kingdoms, where the king is loved by all of his subjects. This is Yona’s world, where her father has done nothing wrong and lives for peace. Holding his peace, he dies believing in non-violence by one that he trusted and raised as a son. Yona’s world is torn apart as she witnesses her fiancé, Soo-Won, stabbing her father through and through. Yona flees to find those who can help keep her safe, the dragons of legend. Only when she finds them, she will be safe.

Yuna’s quest is to find the legendary dragons, those dragons that left the heavens and came to earth to help the emperor, who was a dragon himself, at a time of war. Generations after the legendary dragons started to roam the earth, they passed along their powers to normal humans. These humans gain powers that no man has, each with something different. Dragons are a key element in almost any Sword and Sorcery story, if your story has a dragon, then most likely you are in a Sword and Sorcery story. This is one of the newest Sword and Sorcery anime on this list and once you watch it, you will understand why its near the top of the list.


3. Nanatsu no Taizai (Seven Deadly Sins)

  • Episodes: 24
  • Aired: October 2014 – March 2015

The Seven Deadly Sins tell the story of Princess Elizabeth and how she searches for the vile, murderous, dangerous and perverted group, called The Seven Deadly Sin. Once she finds Meliodas, the leader of said group, she convinces him to assist her in saving the kingdom that has accused him of foul deeds. The pint-sized man, Meliodas, decides to join this big breasted goddess in saving her kingdom and clearing the name of The Seven Deadly Sins.

Seven Deadly Sins is a key example of a sword and sorcery adventure. It takes place during the medieval days of Europe that has spun more than one adventurous tale. Another key element of Sword and Sorcery stories is the use of the Fey. Seven Deadly Sins has one major character, King, who is a fairy. Ban, another major character, was saved by a fairy. The Fey and the use of swords in Seven Deadly Sins is a good hint that it might be a Sword and Sorcery anime, then you throw in magic and talking pigs, then yeah… you are no longer in this world.


2. Fate/Zero

  • Episodes: 13
  • Aired: October 2011 – December 2011

The world was dragged into another Holy Grail War, making this the 4th. Seven masters who have gathered to lay claim onto the cup and the wish that it will grant. Those seven masters summon seven servants to fight to the death. The last one standing will receive the cup and glory of the victory.

Fate/Zero takes place 10 years before Fate/Stay Night, filling in some of the back story of Saber, the main character of both anime. The Fate anime are among the best sword and sorcery anime that I have seen. If you haven’t seen any of them, what are you waiting for? Not all magic in Sword and Sorcery anime is out in the open. For a time in our history, magic was seen as the work of the devil. In Fate/Zero, the main magic that you’ll see is in the sword of Saber… which is somewhat funny… It is a sword and it is imbued with sorcery.


1. Hunter x Hunter (2011)

  • Episodes: 148
  • Aired: October 2011 – September 2014

Hunter x Hunter takes place in a world where dragons, monsters and legends still roam freely and normal humans cower in fear. Gon Freecss, a pint-sized boy with powers more powerful than grown hunters, joins the world and starts a search that would change him forever. He goes off on an adventure to hunt for his father. Along the way he meets several people, who would become both friends and enemies.

Hunter x Hunter is the modern day prime example of what a sword and sorcery anime should be. It captures the attention of its audience and drags them along the adventure with Gon and his friends. Dragons, Fey, Magic, Swords, Monsters and a Medieval setting are all key elements of a Sword and Sorcery anime, Hunter x Hunter has each one of these and more.


There is a new Sword and Sorcery anime almost every few anime seasons. Not all of these anime can be added onto this Top 10 list. So this list had to be cut down to those anime that started within the last five years.

Sword and Sorcery adventures allow us all to live in an “easier” time, where we don’t have to worry about all of the havoc our daily lives bring. The category of Sword and Sorcery will grow, not only in Anime but also in movies and books. Get off the internet and find yourself lost in one of the stories.

Zack Ringler

Writer

Author: Zack Ringler

My name is Zack Ringler, just like it is written on all of my articles. I come from America, Indiana to be precise. I work for the Board of Education in Utsunomiya Japan. Heard of it? Didn’t think so. I am a teacher, writer and game designer with my first game “Moonshine Run” going on Kickstarter later this year. You can learn more about me on my facebook by looking up my name or just adding /zringler to the end of the facebook URL. Hope you like what you read, later.

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